A Review of Beautiful Tenderfoot Campground in Alaska

By Ryan Wilson

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Upper Summit Lake at Tenderfoot Campground

A beautiful summer day in Alaska is hard to beat, especially if you’re lucky enough to be camping at one of the state’s beautiful campgrounds. That is definitely the case at Tenderfoot Campground. Located on the northeastern portion of the Kenai Peninula, you’re welcomed to the campground by stunning views all around.

It’s conveniently located near a lot of different outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, and glacier viewing. The campground is medium-sized, but can accommodate most types of campers. This campground is favorite with locals and tourists alike, so it’s important to book a site early.

I’ve driven by the campground for years, but had never checked it out until recently. It’s a great place that will not disappoint. It’s a great option for campers just wanting to relax around a campfire all day, or those that want to use it as a base camp to jump off from to explore the expansive area.

Below I provide more details on Tenderfoot Campground, the features that it offers, and my overview based on my years of camping in Alaska. I provide you all of the details you need to plan your trip and decide if this is the campground for you! I also provide numerous Tenderfoot Campground photos so you can see for yourself.

Tenderfoot Campground Review

Tenderfoot Campground

Tenderfoot Campground is located on the Kenai Peninsula at Summit Lake. It’s an idyllic scene with the campground situated right on the lake with mountains jutting up all around.

Tenderfoot Campground Map
Tenderfoot Campground Map
Tenderfoot Campground Kiosk
Tenderfoot Campground Kiosk

The campground is located in Chugach National Forest and costs $23 per night. The campground is well managed and the facilities are all in working order. A campground host is present during most of the summer camping season.

While there is decent privacy between campsites, the campground itself is pretty narrow and not very large.

While the campground is located across the lake from the Seward Highway, I could still hear some road noise while at the campground. I didn’t find it overwhelming and wouldn’t keep me from camping at the site. It’s certainly far less road noise than other campgrounds in Alaska, like Centennial Campground in Anchorage.

I also like that the Summit Lake Lodge is located right at the entrance to the campground. They have a small restaurant, ice cream shop, and coffee shop. So if you don’t feel like cooking one night, or just want to spoil the kids with some ice cream, it’s easy to do!

Tenderfoot Campground Campsites

Tenderfoot Campground has 35 campsites with 7 of those designated as walk-in tent sites only. There are no RV size limits. Sites 1, 4, 6, 8, and 10 back up to the lake, so are likely prime locations to try and book.

Tenderfoot Campground Campsites
Tenderfoot Campground Campsites

Each campsite has a picnic table and campfire pit.

There are a lot of bears in the area, so keeping a clean camp is VERY important.

Pay attention to signage in the campground about recent bear sightings and talk to the campground host about any concerns you might have.

Tenderfoot Campground Amenities

Tenderfoot Campground offers drinking water from hand-pump wells around the site.

Tenderfoot Campground Outhouse
Tenderfoot Campground Water

There are multiple outhouses with pit toilets around the campground.

There is also a dumpster for your trash. Please do not leave trash or food unsecured because both grizzly and black bears live in the area and could become problems if people don’t properly manage their camps.

There are no sewer, water, or electric hook-ups at Tenderfoot Campground.

The campground also has a small boat ramp for deploying boats into the lake.

Tenderfoot Campground Reservations

Campsites in Alaska fill up early, up to 6 months in advance. This is a relatively popular campground so it’s important to book sites as far ahead of time as possible. You can book sites on recreation.gov. You can cancel reservations for a full refund minus a small fee prior to your stay, so it’s always best to reserve a site if you think certain dates might work for you, and then cancel later if they don’t.

The tent-only sites are available as first-come first-serve and can’t be reserved. Other sites can be booked on site if the site is not reserved.

When is Tenderfoot Campground Open

Tenderfoot campground is open between late May and late September, annually. June and July are the peak months for staying at Tenderfoot Campground.

Where is Tenderfoot Campground Located

Tenderfoot Campground is located about 80 miles from Anchorage. It takes approximately 90 minutes to reach the campground from Anchorage with an easy drive along the Glenn Highway. But be prepared for delays because there tends to be a lot of construction along Alaska’s roadways in summer.

On your drive, be sure to look for the numerous wildlife species that occur along the way. In particular, watch out for beluga whales that follow the tides and hunt schools of fish. I’ve only seen them 3 times in my nearly 20 years living in Anchorage. So if you see them, know you were really lucky and fortunate. You might also see black bears, moose, Dall sheep, and many migratory birds along the way.

Turnagain Arm has one of the biggest bore tides in the world and it is quite impressive to watch! Keep your eyes peeled for kite and wind surfers who enjoy surfing the bore tides

Tenderfoot Campground Activities

There are a lot of activities within a short drive of the campground. Only 15 miles from Portage Valley, you can easily access Whittier to do a glacier cruise, or enjoy hikes in the area.

The campground is also a relatively short drive from fishing opportunities on the Kenai River, including the famous Russian River “combat fishing”.


At Tenderfoot Campground, you can hike the Summit Creek Trail which connects to the Resurrection Pass Trail. The trailhead is right across the highway from the campground and gives you nice access to the tundra!

Boating on Summit Lake

Summit Lake is a great place for a leisurely boat ride. It can support small boats with small outboard motors. But I think it’s better suited for kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, and also supports Dolly Varden. It would be a great place for fishing with kids.


Tenderfoot Campground is a beautiful location for a camping trip on the Kenai Peninsula. You avoid a lot of the crowds that you would find at other campgrounds in the region, but are still close to all of the activities the Kenai has to offer.

I definitely recommend checking out Tenderfoot Campground to see if it’s a good fit for your next camping trip.

Interested in learning more about other camping opportunities in Alaska? Check out our page on Alaska Campgrounds to learn about other campgrounds to explore.

Photo of author


Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.